Frequently Asked Questions

General Notice: Please READ!

  • Orders that we know will be denied are canceled or adapted. 
  • If we have a concern or question, you will be contacted
  • We want our customers to be happy with us and shop again.

Please Note: IMailToPrison.Com is under no obligation to refund the cost of products or services due to a customer's lack of knowledge or lack of compliance with the regulations of any correctional facility. 

Why? At least 1 in 5 orders as placed would not be delivered due to address errors/omissions or not within the regulations for that inmate and facility.  We can and do correct most orders.

The address information on the order just placed needs correcting,  how can I do that? 

Please send an email with the corrections ASAP. Reply to your order confirmation email,  use the "Contact Us" link or email to IMailToPrison@ThePaperback.Shop.

Can a catalog of books be sent to my loved one? 

This is a bookstore, not a mail-order warehouse. No catalog can be printed with the thousands of used books in our store or the tens of thousands of books on this site, or the hundreds of thousands of books that can be special ordered.

Can an Inmate order books or directly from the store using a Commissary Account or "Trust Check" or Pre-paid by family or friends outside?

Yes.Contact Us with your inmate's name and address so we will mail them an information letter/order form. We had had been working with inmates by mail for years before setting up IMailToPrison.Com. There are some differences.  It is a longer process to communicate by mail when inmates want specific books. Our form is not a catalogue of books, it is a process by which inmates can order books, it does have magazine subscriptions and some specific package deals.

Will the inmate ID# will be on the package.

Yes. Every time.  If your loved one is in one of the very few, very small county jails that does not us ID numbers, please type “NO ID#” or “none” in the space provided for prison ID when checking out. 

Does IMailToPrison.Com send books to inmate using USPS?  

Yes.  Our policy and practice are to use US Mail on most packages.   Many prisons require books sent to inmates to ship by USPS.  Packages will have USPS tracking. 

The exception to this rule would be calendars going to facilities that do accept UPS, including but not limited to TDCJ and BOP facilities. 

Do you ship books to this specific (named) facility? 

We can mail books to inmates anywhere. The important question is this “Will the inmate be allowed to receive these publications?”

The answer depends upon the regulations of that facility.  If you have not previously researched the regulations that is an important step.  Please refer to our How to Mail Books to Prison  page and Prison Policies pages.  Any Prison or Jail can change regulations at any time, so information posted on this website is not guaranteed to be completely accurate. If you discover any error on those pages, please let us know.   

County Jails set regulations that differ from the state regulations and from each other. We are collecting county information, look for the county under its’ state information. Check out the jail’s website or call the mailroom for needed information before ordering books for an inmate.  Links to your county website information provided with in the special instructions or otherwise with your order will be appreciated and added to information available to all our customers. 

How much will I pay for shipping items purchased on-line?

$0 or $5
Used books, back issue magazines and a few new books on the web site have free shipping or are priced with shipping.  Those products will all say "IMAILTOPRISON.COM" above the title on the product page. 

If you order a new book shown to be a "WAREHOUSE" title, $5 per order will be added at checkout.

Mailing costs of magazine subscriptions are included in the price.

How long will it take a package of book(s), back-issue magazines and/or a calendar to be delivered?

Part 1: DELIVERY to Facility

Most often, about a week. Each facility will deliver books to inmates in its’ own good time, days or weeks.  That deliver time is dependent upon the management, efficiency, and regulations of individual facility mail rooms

Most new books and the calendars are shipped direct from our wholesaler to your prison inmate.   Generally, those books are mailed to prisons one to two business days.  A few books are “print on demand titles, and the book must be made before it can be sent, that takes a two to four days.  Shiping POD books has gone to six business days on rare occasions like Covid lockdown and Christmas season).

If a new book is out of stock, that portion of the order will be canceled. Most often, the price of the book will be subtracted from the customers payment before the order is accepted.  If not, the price will be refunded. 

Used books, a few new books, and back-issue magazines are mailed out of our Dickinson, Texas location in one to two business days. Shipping time varies. Most packages will arrive at a Texas correctional facility from 2 to 4 days of mailing. Out of Texas orders most often deliver in up to 10 days, excluding weekends and holidays. 

Part 2: DELIVERY to inmates:

  • TDCJ, mail rooms had delivered to inmates in 2 to 3 days, excluding weekends and holidays. Recent staff shortages have lengthened that time frame. 
  • Federal BOP prisons seem to hand over publications quickly, in just a few days.
  • Pennsylvania, California and Wisconsin inmates will be waiting at least 2 to 3 weeks.
  • We have not had complaints or other information on especially long delays in other state's facilities. 
  • Jails do whatever they do, each is it's own little fiefdom. 

How long will it take a Magazine Subscription to start?

Subscriptions are mailed by the individual MAGAZINE PUBLISHERS not this bookstore.

The most common complaint on subscriptions is slow delivery,

As a general rule:

  • daily subscriptions take 4 to 8 weeks to start, 
  • weekly subscriptions take 6 to 10 weeks to start, 
  • monthly subscriptions take 8 to 12 weeks to start and 
  • bi-monthly and quarterly subscriptions take 10 to 16 weeks to start.

This information is from our magazine clearing house:

The industry standard is 30 to 120 days. Most of the publishers use mail processing centers which tabulate and processes the millions of orders received, and they perform the actual sorting and mailing. That takes a lot of time. Additionally, most magazines are printed months in advance, and each printing is pre-allocated only to the number of subscribers at the actual time of printing. Thus, an order received in January might actually commence in April. There is very little difference in the processing time whether one orders directly through the publisher, or through a subscription reseller such as this, or any other website.

Additionally, magazines may be held in mailrooms for days or weeks before issues are approved for delivery (or denied) to inmates.  Magazine publishers do not use USPS tracking.

Our customers are given a delivery estimate based upon those time frames when the order is confirmed.  Please contact us if the magazine is not delivered within that time. Often, we can either determine that there is or is not a problem and then help a problem to be fixed (see question below).

What if my inmate is moved or released before the magazine subscription is over?  

Contact Us ASAP

Publishers will take just as long to update an address as it took to start the subscription. Some prison systems will forward the magazine to the new facility for a limited length of time, but don't count on it.

What if the magazine subscription is not delivered? 

Contact us ASAP if your inmate with a magazine subscription is moved or released. We can change the address on the subscription; however, it is likely that an issue could be missed in that change. 

If there is a problem with magazine delivery, every attempt will be made to remedy the situation.  Sometimes publishers make mistakes, sometimes customers make mistakes, even I have made mistakes!   An error on the part of the bookstore/website will be corrected or compensated ASAP at no cost to the customer.

Magazine subscriptions are placed through a magazine clearing house which will not refund subscriptions, as the publishers will not refund the clearing house.  Therefore, magazine subscription orders cannot be refunded.

Can The Paperback Shop/IMailToPrison.Com send the book I purchased at another store to a prison inmate? 

Absolutely Not!  This could endanger our privilege of mailing to every inmate in that state or facility. 

Can I order new books not on the web site for a Prison Inmate?    

Yes – We often add books to the site because of customer requests. 

We have about 17,000 titles on the site. Due to Shopify set-up, only one version of a book title can be listed at a time.  If you would like a book not on the site or a specific binding (a hardcover copy not paperback for example)  we can that too!  

Please Contact Us for more information or a quote. 

What about other books not on the site including out of print, rare and very special books?

Special orders are possible. Please Contact Us.

IMailToPrison.Com will order used books from on-line book search services or new books ordered from on-line publishers/web sites.  A $5 search/ordering fee for each book and shipping charges of not less than $5 will be added to the price the store pays for each book. (Most often 25 cents for each additional book mailed)  All publications will ship to this bookstore before mailing to the inmate.  

IMailToPrison.Com does not act as a 3rd party seller.  We will not order from some other store to drop ship directly to an inmate. 

Denied, Refused, Returned Publications

Prisons are Weird!  What is okay in one place may be denied in another.  Please use our resources, Prison Policies,  and do your own research to be as sure as possible that your order will be accepted. We do not offer full refunds under any circumstances other than an error on the part of this business.  

See also special guarantee for TDCJ packages mailed from our bookstore: 

What if the order is denied?

Our page How to mail books to prisons or jails? has a lot of good information that can help prevent placing a bad order. 

Packages will most often be returned by USPS about 1 month after shipping. On rare occasions several months pass before a refused package was returned.  

The most common reasons packages are denied/refused/returned are:

  • Inmate not at the address provided, either moved, released or incorrect address on the order as placed.
  • Contents denied due to that prison or jail’s regulations or rules for that that system, facility or that inmate.
  • Package not from acceptable source: often publisher only or specific approved vendor list.
  • Facility specific regulations on packaging: customers need to include known issues in the “special instructions.”

Customers will be notified by email and supplied with whatever information is available on the reason for package refusal or denial, and options available to the customer. 

  • Packages can be reshipped for our cost of postage plus $1, either to the inmate or the purchaser
  • If a package is that returned is not to be reshipped, The Paperback Shop/IMailToPrison.Com may refund portions of the purchase price, not to include our shipping costs or any postage due on a return package, or other unrecoverable costs. 
  • If no response is received to our email, then after 30 days the contents will be donated to InsideBooksProject.Org. 

Special policies for TDCJ: Texas state prisons and state jails

After all these years, we know a a great deal about what will work for Texas, which has one of the easiest, family and inmate friendly, set of rules for publications.

Special rules for publications going to, TDCJ, prisons and state jails?

Used Book Sets & Back Issue Magazines: If a publication pictured on our site from one of these sets is rejected by TDCJ, The Paperback Shop /IMailToPrison.Com will replace it and reship at no charge. This does not apply to erotic magazines or other publications in our "Ladies Wearing Less"  collection which are clearly marked as "will be denied to Texas State Inmates"

Changes to TDCJ policy in 2023 included denial of books with stickers. Therefor, no books mailed by this bookstore will have stickers.

A list of books that TDCJ had banned through 2017 is available thanks to the Dallas Morning News:

  Use this link to view and search list. 

 There is also a link to download a spreadsheet of 280000 approved books.